2015 Washington County Studio Tour in Oregon

You are invited! Come visit my studio this October  17 & 18, 2015 and see where/how the sausage  art gets  made … and the magic happens.  The tour map and directions are included with my artist directory listing at  Barbara Martin Artist Washington County Open Studio…  With over 40 artists and galleries participating the tour should be fantastic this year!

Artists who participate in the tour are supposed to offer demonstrations. I’ll be mixing it up this time by working in my typical fashion which involves:  noodling about, lots of coffee breaks and yard wandering, visits to the pond and bottle garden, and occasionally some deeply focused art making in a frenzy of creativity.

Depending on the weather and my mood and any special requests, I may be demonstrating one, some or all of the following:

  • encaustic aka painting with HOT WAX  and a torch or heat gun
  • acrylic painting on a BIG CANVAS
  • collaging with fussy cut little paper bits and ephemera
  • slinging alcohol inks at Yupo
  • attempting assemblage of a found-glass -sculpture-tower  which involves scary-to-me power tools and truly may or may not work out

Or whatever is “hot” on my brain that day.  I am process oriented with my art. I love to play around, try stuff, have fun  and experiment — and sometimes make some nice looking art! I’d love to have you join me in the studio on the tour!

Mark your calendar for the third weekend in October, the 17th and 18th, 2015.  Hours are 11-5.  Hope you can swing by. It’s gonna be great!

ps Yes, there will be chocolate involved.




F is for Fire Truck

fire truckThis vintage Fisher Price fire truck toy holds court over my kitchen. It’s a friendly reminder to practice staying focused and organized. We can only do one thing at a time. When I split my time, attention and energy in too many directions, my goals slither away, almost unnoticed.

Contrast that with a fire truck responding to a fire in a direct and speedy way. The fire fighting team gets there fast and does the job. They’ve practiced and trained. They know what to do and how to do it. A well-oiled machine, and with heart, too.

The key: a clear goal plus skilled performance.

No time wasted deciding what to do next, how to do it,  whether or not to do it. They just do what needs to be done. They put out fires, but they are not “putting out fires” in their own procedures. They are not distracted by avoidable miss-steps!

I’m using the little truck as inspiration for devising my own systems to keep up with show schedules, studio time, classes, events, drawing practice, record keeping. I am a great systems planner in my head; too often the implementation stays in my head, too.

The problem: some days I have so many details spinning in the air that it feels like I am spinning, too.

The solution: tighter focus and immediate, small, concrete steps.

I stop, catch my breath and wonder:

If I were Driverdude what do I need to do right now to get ready for this next thing – and the two after that?

And, with a nod to the fire truck:

What do I need to remember about this for next time – to make it easier on myself?

Like a secret friend, the little driver dude with the diabolical grin is so encouraging. He never makes me feel stupid, he just shakes his head from side to side and says: “Try it again, practice makes perfect.” Which is fine because I am not a fire fighter putting my life and the lives of others in harm’s way to save lives, I am an artist. Sometimes I even get to ring the bell. 🙂

Yes! The bell still rings clearly, the hose moves, the ladder pulls out and around and up and over, his head swivels. Push the truck across the table and it says “Bingbingbing!” while his head pops side to side. I LOVE IT SO MUCH. #ArtistsAreKidsAtHeart

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Experimental Encaustic

detail 2 sm panelsSome of my artist friends are using encaustic in their work. Encaustic is a rich mixture of beeswax and resin and (often) pigment.  To create an image, the artist builds up a series of thin but luxurious layers of wax, resulting in a completed piece with a lovely translucent quality, a gentle gleam, and potentially myriad other intriguing effects. This method has been used to create art for centuries.

As much as I admire and appreciate the real thing, the photo above (please click on it TWICE to see maximum detail) shows detail from two small panels I recently created in the “encaustic style” but using my own “faux-caustic” methods.  This came about because when I recently attended a hands-on workshop to learn about working with this magical medium, I came away at the end of the day with several attractive pieces, searing lungs and a pounding headache. Based on that toxic experience, I decided to put down the heat gun. I think encaustic should only be done under perfect ventilation conditions — meaning outdoors in the summertime!

But as an intrepid member of the International Society of Experimental Artists, I want to create my own recipe/technique for make “faux-caustic” pieces. Instead of wax and resin, I am using a “secret” combination of professional quality acrylic mediums.

Although good ventilation is required for these as it is with most any art materials, I am not getting headaches or burning sensations in my lungs working on these pieces.  And I am getting some interesting results. The process is not perfected (yet) but it’s fascinating to see what is developing in the studio.

Here is a sneak-peek photo.  (Click on it to make it bigger.) The surface is glossier than true encaustic would be — even with a good buffing encaustic is not really high gloss like this — but you can see some of the amazing encaustic-like surface texture and encapsulation effect I am already achieving.

If you would like to see a completed piece using the same palette as shown in the photo, I am currently showing the abstract “Barcelona” (12″x12″ acrylic on cradled wood panel) at Sequoia Gallery and Studios in Hillsboro, Oregon.  Early public feedback has been positive and one viewer remarked how it is reminiscent of a ceramic tile, which I find fascinating.  What do you think, do you like the “look” of that surface?

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D is for Drawing MeetUp

drawing meetup 1 Every Wednesday at 2 pm, I sit down and practice my drawing in a bistro.  It’s an “appointment” with my drawing.

A  supportive bunch of  people  who would also like to improve their drawing join me. It’s a fun, casual, no talent/no skill/no pressure/NO CRITIQUE opportunity to hang out and draw together.

My motto is: DOODLING TOTALLY COUNTS! If we doodle, we win!!!

I’m working through some exercises from the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, some people follow along, some use other books, some use no book.

After just a few weeks, my skill has improved — certainly more than it did during the past couple of years when owning the book without opening it did not make much of a dent in my level of, shall we say, drawing suckage.  😉

I’ve had some great conversations with members of the group. And possibly best of all, we’ve had a lot of fun!

You are invited! If you are in Oregon, you could come in person. If you can’t manage that, you could participate “remotely” via Facebook or Twitter or even just on your own.  It feels supportive to know other people are practicing at the very same time. (No pressure!)

You can get the details about the Wednesday Drawing at 2:00 at our Creative Hillsboro MeetUp site. But you don’t even have to register. Just show up at Primrose and Tumbleweeds in downtown Hillsboro. Bring your own pencil and paper. And a friend, if you’d like.  See you there!

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